Human rights groups oppose asylum processing rule that would further slow cases

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, alongside the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Cameroon Advocacy Network, Haitian Bridge Alliance, and Southeast Dignity Not Detention Coalition, strongly opposes a proposed regulation that would disproportionately deny humanitarian protection to people in immigration detention and Black people.

On June 12, 2024, the human rights organizations submitted a public comment to the Biden administration’s plan to “quickly screen out” people during an initial interview through the application of five legally complex bars to humanitarian protection. These bars, including some based on previous contact with criminal legal authorities, are ordinarily applied only after the passage of the initial screening interview at a hearing before an immigration judge, where applicants for protection can receive a lawyer’s assistance. The new pre-hearing bars heighten the risk of forced return to persecution and torture, particularly for people held in immigration detention, of whom 99% lack legal representation in an initial screening interview. They also disproportionately harm Black people, who worldwide confront racially discriminatory arrests and prosecutions, and thus are more likely to be disqualified from humanitarian protection under the proposed rule.

“The latest U.S. proposal to restrict asylum will only slow down the system further by introducing complex legal questions into initial screening interviews at the border,” said Anthony Enriquez, Vice President of U.S. Advocacy and Litigation.

“Challenges with managing the number of claims for humanitarian protection at the border are real and they deserve real solutions to increase efficiency. One of those would be to provide counsel to immigrants facing deportation, a data-backed solution that has been shown to increase fair and efficient processing of asylum claims.”